imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (wolf)
So I read Captain Awkward, and the DFD thread on Making Light, and Shakesville, and any number of advice columns on and off, because I am fascinated by humans and how and why we do things. One of the big things I see is in the matter of romantic relationships. Someone – usually a woman – will say something like, “My significant other leaves broken glass in the sink,” or, “My significant other pisses in cups and leaves them lying around,” or, “Of course I do all the housework despite working a sixty-hour week because my significant other just can’t do it,” and the thing is, nine times out of ten that significant other is male. And then a whole heck of a lot of other women chime in to say, “Hey, mine does that too, you are not alone!” (or, more hopefully, “My ex did that, and we are no longer together for a reason,”).

And I work in a mostly-female department of a mostly-female organization (librarians: very often female!), and a lot of my patrons are women, and I hear a lot of, “Oh, well, you know how men are,” and what the person means is: they don’t cook, they don’t clean, they don’t do childcare, they don’t do emotional anything, they expect their beer and their dinner and their marital rights and they lift heavy things and kill bugs. Good to have around but not, you know, useful for a whole lot of things, and you certainly can’t expect them to hold up their end of an emotional entanglement; if you want romance you have to pull that weight yourself: just be glad you have one who doesn’t hit you – or at least not much.

And that? That is grade-A prime-cut BULLSHIT. And I wish to dispute it.

First off, you don’t need a man. Nope. It is nice to have a romantic partner if that is something you want in your life, and if you are interested sexually and romantically in men then it is nice to have a man in your life, but for the love of little birdies, just having one is not an accomplishment to be desired, and certainly the attitude of, “Well, this one is crappy to me but at least I have one” – that attitude needs to be taken away in a sack, never to be seen again. So.

Secondly, let’s say you want a man in your life, in the sexual and romantic sense. Let me tell you a thing.

I am married. Have been for just under eight months now, which I grant you isn’t a lot but I lived with my husband for just under four years before we were married, and the pastor who gave us premarital counseling basically said to our faces that marriage was, frankly, not going to change a damn thing about our relationship – that in every way that mattered except the legal, we were already married.

And when someone says to me, “Oh, you know how men are,” and they mean ‘useless violent jackwagon with the emotional intelligence of a small grey rock,’ frankly, I kind of see red. Because that is NOT TRUE of the man I married, and I know for a fact there are more men like him out there.

Let me brag on my husband for a minute, because here are some things which good men do:

• My husband goes shopping with me, after we have made the week’s menus together and looked through the cabinets together and decided what we need.
• My husband makes dinner with me, except on the nights I work late and come home and fall over, when he makes dinner for me, and does it damn well.
• My husband eats dinner with me at our little table, and we talk about anything and everything and laugh our heads off about the weirdest things and discuss philosophical issues and how to rule the world when our grand plans work out and we become evil overlords of the universe.
• My husband does the dishes with me, side by side at the sink chatting about our days or our plans for the week or the story one of us is writing or whatever else happens to come up in conversation.
• My husband semi-regularly scrubbed out the tub (before it started draining properly), and damn it looked nice. Also he does the vacuuming when we clean because I hate that thing.
• My husband tells me if my clothing looks acceptable in public when I ask, because he has a much better eye for color and fit than I ever have, and also he thinks I am beautiful and should wear clothing which looks good on me.
• My husband is warm and snuggly and comes up behind me while I am on the computer to hug me from behind and get his beard caught in my hair like Velcro and laugh at whatever I’ve got up on Tumblr.
• My husband betas my fiction and worldbuilds with me, and I beta for him and worldbuild with him, and both our writing improves.
• My husband plays Diablo III with me and we go kill monsters gleefully and laugh and trade interesting items. And then he quotes the characters at me while we are doing other things so that I fall over laughing.
• My husband explains football to me, very patiently, over and over because I think it is a silly sport and do not understand it but I know he likes it so I don’t mind if the game is on, and sometimes I want to know why everyone is cheering.
• My husband makes really awful puns and laughs at my really awful puns.
• My husband lets me rant about my co-workers or patrons or the computers at work that don’t do what I need them to and hugs me when I am done.
• My husband never tells me I am stupid or ugly or useless, even when my own brain does, but he does tell me I am beautiful and smart and have really good ideas.
• My husband goes dancing with me.
• My husband brings me water and meds when I am sick, and rubs my back, and makes soothing noises. (Especially relevant this week, when I am making horrid hacking noises and snorfling.)

…Look, I could go on for a very long time about what a wonderful man I have married, but the thing is, look at that list. It is a list of ways my husband is kind to me, of ways my husband shares the work of being married with me instead of making me do it on my own, of ways that my husband demonstrates that he cares about me as more than just provider-of-food-and-sexy-times.

And no one, no one, NO ONE DAMMIT, should have to settle for less than someone who cares about them, and is kind to them, and shares the work of the relationship with them.

So if you are someone who wants a man in your life, romance-wise, do not fall for all of the many, many, many lies about ‘how men are’ and ‘you know how it is’ and ‘it’s just the way things work.’ No. There are men in the world who are kind and considerate, who tell awful jokes and hug you when you are sad and make dinner with you and never tell you that you are ugly or stupid or worthless. There are men who marry you after six years together because they want to, none of this who-buys-a-cow-when-milk-is-free bullshit. There are men who choose jewelry for you that is something you like, because they have paid attention to your interests, and buy you Hobbit socks for your birthday, and choose your engagement ring because it hasn’t got any sharp edges and they remember the time you cut yourself on a ring, years ago. There are men who do not make fun of your old teddy that is all flat and worn but you love it so damn much anyway. There are men who lean over and double-check that you’ve taken your pill because you like the outside confirmation, and who geek out about your favorite books with you, and who play computer games with you and never tell you you’re a ‘fake geek girl’ whatever the hell that is.

There are good men out there. My father is one. My husband is one. My husband’s brother, and his father, and on and on and they exist, okay?

If you really want a man in your life, do not settle for any man who will have you. Look for one who will be kind to you, and care for you, and respect your autonomy and your decisions; who will help you do the work of the relationship, and be your friend as well as your lover. Such men exist. Do not settle for less.

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